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Common Mistakes to Avoid in Child Support Cases in DuPage County, IL

Sad little girl upset by father leaving embracing dad. Mistakes to avoid in child support cases

Child support is a crucial financial arrangement that ensures children receive the resources they need to thrive. However, navigating the legal system surrounding child support can be challenging, and even small missteps can have significant consequences. Whether you’re a parent paying child support or a parent receiving it, understanding common mistakes to avoid in child support cases can help ensure a smoother process.

Sad little girl upset by father leaving embracing dad. Mistakes to avoid in child support cases

What Are the Most Common Mistakes to Avoid in Child Support Cases?

In DuPage County, IL, common mistakes to avoid in child support cases include not establishing paternity, improper documentation of income and expenses, and treating child support and child custody cases as the same issue. Other frequent errors are waiting to talk with a lawyer or not speaking with one at all and not following court orders.

Failing to Establish Paternity

In Illinois, if a married couple has a child, the child’s legal father is presumed to be the person to whom the mother is married. If the couple later divorces, custody, visitation, and child support issues are handled with both parents having equal rights. Paternity rarely becomes an issue.

When children are born to unmarried parents in Illinois, the courts do not recognize a paternal relationship between the father and the child unless paternity is established. If the mother is seeking child support for a child or children born out of wedlock, parentage must be established.

It must also be established if a father wants to initiate child support payments or who wants to pursue visitation or custody.

The parents can both consent to establish paternity using an In-Hospital Paternity Affidavit or an Illinois Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form. The parents complete and sign this form at the hospital shortly after the child’s birth or later at their health department. However, the mother or father can sign a rescission within 60 days and not establish paternity. With a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, the mother can, at any time, file a petition for a child support order.

Otherwise, the mother can request a genetic test to establish paternity so she can ask for child support payments. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services usually handles this as well as an interview with the possible father. It is a way to cut down on the need for court intervention. If a putative father misses this interview or meeting, the state will probably assume he is the legal father.

In complex cases or if the Department of Healthcare and Family Services cannot establish paternity, court intervention occurs.

Not Properly Documenting Income and Expenses

Inadequate documentation of income and expenses is another common mistake in child support cases. Both parties need to fully disclose their income (from all sources), expenses, and other financial matters. Some people have complicated financial situations or are naturally disorganized record-keepers. However, the court will not accept these reasons or others such as not having enough time.

If the court later finds that income and expenses were not properly accounted for, the child support payments could be increased or decreased, and one party might owe back pay or have to pay refunds. The court could also issue fines and other penalties.

Documenting your income and expenses properly is also a way for you to double-check that you are paying or receiving a fair amount of child support. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services offers an online child support estimator tool to help parents know what approximate amount they should expect to pay or receive based on various factors like both parents’ income and the number of children involved.

Failing to Seek Legal Representation

Not hiring a child support lawyer is another one of the most common mistakes to avoid in child support cases. (Similarly, if you’re involved in a custody case, not getting legal representation is one of the major child custody mistakes.)

Child support is meant to ensure a child’s financial well-being after a separation or divorce. While the process may seem straightforward, legal complexities can quickly arise. Hiring a child support lawyer can benefit both paying and receiving parents in various ways. Some of these include:

  • Accurate Calculations: Child support is calculated based on income, parenting time arrangements, and other factors. A lawyer ensures these calculations are accurate, protecting you from paying or receiving an unfair amount.
  • Understanding Your Rights: A lawyer can explain your legal rights and obligations, empowering you to make informed decisions throughout the process.
  • Negotiating Agreements: Lawyers can negotiate child support agreements that are fair and reflect your unique circumstances.
  • Enforcement Issues: If the other parent fails to make payments, a lawyer can guide you through enforcement options, such as wage garnishments or court orders.
  • Modifications: Life circumstances change. A lawyer can help you modify the child support agreement if necessary, ensuring it remains fair as your situation evolves.
  • Representation in Court: Should your child support case go to court, a lawyer will advocate for you, protecting your interests and presenting your case effectively.

Are There Consequences if the Court Order Is Not Followed by Both Parties?

There can be many consequences if the parties do not follow a court order. The repercussions may include fines, penalties, or, in extreme cases, imprisonment. Parents who do not pay child support as ordered could see their wages garnished, their tax refunds seized, and their driver’s license suspended.

Similarly, if a parent does not follow a court order for custody or visitation because the other parent is not paying child support, the custodial parent could face fines and custodial changes. Not following a court order is one reason why a judge would modify parenting time.

What Are the Common Reasons for Non-Compliance in a Child Custody Case?

If you have lost custody and are working on how to get custody of your child back, complying with court orders is one of the most important things you could do. However, noncompliance is among the most common child custody case mistakes. It can occur for a variety of reasons such as:

  • Nonpayment of child support: Parents may miss child support payments unintentionally because of financial struggles, or they may simply refuse to pay.
  • Miscommunication or misunderstandings: One or both parents might be unclear on visitation schedules or their rights and responsibilities.
  • Life changes: Moving, changing jobs, becoming disabled, or other life changes can make it tricky for a parent to follow orders.
  • Third parties: Grandparents, new dating partners, or others may encourage a parent to take steps that violate the custody agreement.
  • Safety issues: One parent may hesitate to follow orders if children going with the other parent would jeopardize the child’s safety. For example, this could occur if a parent shows up for his or her time while seemingly intoxicated and driving a car.
  • Child’s age: When children get older, their needs or preferences may change. Teens may decide they want to stay at one parent’s house more.

Whether you are dealing with child support payments or child custody cases, not complying with orders is serious.

Is Modification of Child Support Orders Possible in DuPage County, IL?

It is possible for the courts to modify child support orders in Illinois if substantial changes occur. For instance, support modifications could take place in situations involving changes in income or in the health of a parent or child.

Steps to Take in Requesting Child Support Modification in Illinois

It is best to request modification as soon as possible. For example, if you lose your job and struggle to find one promptly (or one paying a similar amount of money), let your lawyer or the court know right away.

If you wait a few months, you could be paying more child support than you can afford. You might end up being unable to pay important expenses or even any amount of child support at some point the longer you wait. The steps to take to modify an order include these.

Consult With a Lawyer

Hiring a child support attorney isn’t required to modify child support orders in Illinois, but doing so can be helpful to your case. Your lawyer can help you navigate the process and increase your chances of success.

Gather Documents

Look for pay stubs, tax returns, medical records, or documentation relating to your request. Your lawyer can explain the specific types of documents you need for your case.

Your lawyer will request the modification on your behalf and complete the financial affidavit for you. He or she will also arrange for the other party to be properly served with copies of the filed forms.

Attend Court Hearings or Consider Mediation

You may have to show up to court hearings about the modification request. Otherwise, negotiation or mediation can help you avoid the stress of litigation.

Follow the New Order

If the court issues a new child support order, comply with it. Follow the schedule of payments the order outlines.

To find out more about common mistakes to avoid in child support cases contact us online or call Erlich Law at (630) 538-5331.

Uncontested divorce lawyer Denise Erlich is passionate about helping divorcing couples in the greater Chicagoland area transition to their new life as seamlessly as possible. Ms. Erlich patiently guides her clients through every step of the divorce process and provides clients with candid advice about their case and legal options, so they can make informed decisions about their future.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois